With colours to a feel-good office

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Colours bring variety into life and influence the psyche: red stimulates, while green calms rather. These findings are not new. “We take advantage of them every day when we buy clothes or put together a bouquet of flowers,” says Martin Tanner, a certified colour consultant and designer at IACC. Far less well known, however, is the fact that colours can also produce psychological reactions. “Color stimuli, for example, influence the brain’s willingness to process information. Colour perceptions also affect the function of the vegetative nervous system and the release of hormones,” says Tanner. The scientifically supported colour and material consultancy is aware of these processes and incorporates them into design projects. “Tanner notes that “far too often, the walls of new buildings and renovations are painted white without imagination. “It is not taken into account that such a supposedly neutral design can even have a negative effect on concentration and performance.

“Far too often the walls in new construction and renovation projects are still painted white without imagination.”

The scientifically supported colour and material consultancy also works with the findings of colour psychology by making targeted use of the emotional effect of colours, their symbolism and also their associative power. “The starting point of the planning process, however, is always the needs of the future user,” says Tanner.

Working more productively

The importance of assessing the needs of future users can also be seen in the design of workspaces. “If you sit in the office for eight hours or more and look at white walls, you won’t feel very comfortable in the world of work,” says Tanner. And he adds: “Today, cool, technoid industrial and office spaces are often predominant, which want to appear aesthetically pleasing through rough and hard materials such as steel and concrete. But in reality such spaces are both ergonomic and psychological wrong decisions.”

Whether the room is painted blue, red or green has different effects. “An office is not just an office. Colours have a great influence on the ambience at the workplace. They have an inspiring, invigorating and calming effect. With simple steps we can counteract the monotony in the rooms and set accents”, Tanner sums it up. An accountant, for example, would rather demand a closed and calmly designed room. For a creative room, on the other hand, Tanner recommends a high, open room in which thoughts are given free rein. Here, the colour accents may be stronger. It is also important that the colour design of the workplace is integrated into the design concept of the entire company organism as well as the spatial environment.

“Colours have a great influence on the ambience at the workplace.”

“Thus, a scientifically based colour and material concept not only promotes the well-being of employees, but also their productivity,” says Tanner. And he refers to a study conducted in Sweden in 2006, which found that coloured offices have more positive effects on employees than rooms with neutral colours or no colours at all. “Overall, a professional color and material concept makes a significant contribution to reducing personnel costs and building maintenance,” says Tanner. This high benefit is offset by an additional investment, which is negligible compared to the construction costs. Especially in economically difficult times, clever investors and building owners could profit from this. “Unfortunately, these aspects of the costs and the added value of colour design count little for SMEs,” says Tanner.

Architects use the colours very soberly and neutrally in private property as well as in schools, hospitals and homes or administrative facilities, hotels and restaurants. “In other countries, such as the USA, Canada or Australia, the added value of colour design has long been recognised and is being built upon,” emphasises Tanner. In children’s hospitals, old people’s homes, etc., for example. Colours are used consciously and systematically to promote relaxation and recreation.

Sensitising SMEs

Martin Tanner officially went into business for himself with his colour consulting & design in spring 2008. The trained master painter has already specialised in natural colours in earlier years in Australia, which he also uses today in his projects. He is a member of the International Association of Colour Consultants and also applies the design philosophy of the IACC. His services are wide-ranging and range from project basis analysis and analysis to the development of colour and material concepts and project support. “I always involve private clients very strongly in the concept. This means that I lead them and we implement it together,” says Tanner. This always works very well. His clients include many private individuals, but also companies, retirement institutions and municipalities throughout Switzerland.

Martin Tanner hopes that scientifically based colour and material advice will attract more public attention in the future. “It would be desirable for companies and enterprises in particular to be sensitised to this and to recognise the added value of colour design”. He will also be presenting his services at design fairs in the greater Lucerne/Zurich area and promoting his innovative invention, the Ambience mobile interior design system (see side article).

Author: Martin Tanner
Published in: KMU Welt – Swiss business newspaper, February 2017

Side article

INNOVATION – Colour expert Martin Tanner has developed the flexible Ambience mobile room design system. It is suitable for your own four walls as well as for commercial premises.

Ambience mobile ™: Mobile colour concept for at home and in the office

60 percent of the Swiss are tenants. “Most of the walls in a rented apartment are white as standard. And they have to be returned,” says colour expert Martin Tanner. 99 percent of the tenants were afraid of the cost of colored walls or painting them back in white. Tanner has dealt intensively with this problem and found an answer with the development of the flexible room design system, Ambience mobile™. “Colours are not applied to existing surfaces, but to specific carrier materials such as fabric sheets, light panels or canvases. These are hung in front of the interior walls and painted to create a desired or planned room ambience,” explains Tanner. The advantage and benefit of this design system lies in its high flexibility and mobility. Tanner explains: “When a room is moved or redesigned, the carrier materials can be removed easily and effortlessly and reinstalled at a new location just as easily – without outside help. This design system is therefore much more cost-effective in the short, medium and long term than painting walls first and then painting them back again.

Positive Feedback

Tanner put his invention into practice as part of a pilot project in a detached house. Here the grey filled anhydrite floors, the exposed concrete ceilings as well as the white plastered and grey concrete walls were given more warmth and comfort with the Ambience mobile. “Together we developed a harmonious material and colour concept for the kitchen, dining and living areas as well as two bedrooms,” says the customer, an art and design therapist. She is very satisfied with the result: “The finished colour ensemble radiates a lot of warmth and security for us every day. With this optical upgrading we create a room ambience in which we as a family feel very comfortable and at ease”.

Also for business premises

The interior design system can not only be used in rented apartments, but is also ideal for public buildings such as schools, hospitals or retirement homes. It also contributes to a better working climate in offices, commercial and industrial premises. As the pilot project shows, it works perfectly in practice. “The market would also actually be there,” says Tanner. “But now I have to make the Ambience mobile™ known to the public. That is still a hard piece of work. The committed colour consultant also wants to be present at selected design fairs in the Lucerne/Zurich region.

Author: Corinne Remund

Work more productively: The conscious and systematic use of colours is also worthwhile in the working world. Here, for example, is the conference room of the Cham paper factory designed by Martin Tanner.

The colour design with the flexible room design system provides a positive ambience and convinces with its beneficial effect.